Ross Chastain draws a fine line of aggression and patience – The North State Journal
Ross Chastain has proven to be a decent road racer over the course of his career and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be on Sunday at Road America in Wisconsin.
But it takes a fine line of patience and aggression to fight for race wins and Chastain has strived to strike that balance in his breakout season. Chastain has won two Cup victories this season, his first with Trackhouse Racing, but he has shaken a few cages among his rivals along the way.
He admittedly made a series of overly aggressive moves on the track that strained some relationships, but Chastain, 29, is torn over how to proceed. What he has done so far has allowed Chastain to qualify for the NASCAR playoffs and place second in the Cup standings.
“All I know is that I’ve been chasing that dream and goal of competing in the Cup Series for 11 years, 12 years now,” Chastain said. “When I race guys, I want it to be for the win and I want to race them for the win, and I don’t need to do (big moves) for fifth place. I need to get a better bet on this. I don’t know how to fix it, I just know that I want it so badly.
“And that doesn’t mean I meet people, like, I get that. And trying to be better has been a challenge. I just want to get past people. I feel like I’m the aggressive guy, yes, but I also hurt myself a lot and that’s good, that’s racing, I love it, and I can do it at the front of a Cup race, which is only one dream come true.
Chastain earned his first career Cup victory in March at the Circuit of the Americas road course in Austin, Texas, and he had to battle with former teammate AJ Allmendinger in the closing laps to seal the win.
He won’t be afraid to slog and bang again on Sunday when NASCAR takes its second consecutive trip to the idyllic 14-turn track that stretches for 4 miles and is considered one of the best permanent road courses in the world. Chastain finished seventh at Road America last year and the discipline suits him: Chastain has five top-10 finishes in 14 career road starts.
He will try to work his way into victory lane on Sunday and become the first three-race winner this season – Chastain is one of five drivers with two wins – while trying to find his place in the garage. He’s not a superstar, isn’t married so doesn’t hang out with young families, and hasn’t been included in any of Denny Hamlin’s golf outings or basketball tournaments.
“I don’t live the same life as many of them; I don’t have a bus here in the parking lot and that’s the problem – if I wanted to hang out with them on the weekend, I should probably be there in the parking lot,” Chastain said. “But that seems like a huge expense that I don’t care about. Should I probably call them and go out on the lake with them on Monday? Probably. But I don’t like the lake too much.
“So I’ll probably just go to the store.” I have my crew. I have my friends. It’s a pretty small circle. I’m a bit lonely. I have a lot more friends in the garage than on the (starting) grid. »
ROAD RACING RINGTONES
The Cup Series race has a pair of bell ringers in the field featuring Kyle Tilley and Joey Hand, a pair of NASCAR-owned IMSA sports car series veterans.
Tilley will make his fourth career Cup start and first of the season. The British driver will be driving the #78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford. In three starts last season, Tilley finished 31st at COTA, 35th at Road America and 30th at Watkins Glen.
Tilley raced the IMSA event last season and finished third in the LMP2 class.
Hand, a former Chip Ganassi Racing driver, is in the race as part of his long association with Ford. The Californian will drive the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford, a car that is primarily fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing.
Road America will be Hand’s fourth career start on the series, third this season. His career-best finish was 20th at Sonoma in early June.
Defending winner Chase Elliott is the favorite, according to FanDuel and is coming off a victory last Sunday night at the Nashville Superspeedway. … If Elliott wins on Sunday, he’ll tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart for the second-most road wins in the Cup Series with eight. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon holds the record with nine road wins.